Aussie tradies are almost twice as likely to take good care of their tools as their bodies.
National Tradies Health Month is a national campaign that runs every August and aims to raise awareness of the risks posed to those who work in trade occupations – among the individuals, their families, employers and the wider community.
According to to recent research released by the Australian Physiotherapy Association (APA) tradespeople have one of the highest injury rates of any occupation. These findings come as no surprise as tradespeople are prone to a range of injuries as a result of the intensity and repetitive nature of their work. The most noticeable statistic is that in light of knowing this almost a quarter of tradies in a recent survey through the APA stated that they didn’t seek help from a health professional for their injury and as a result had a longer recovery time or the injury became chronic in nature.
The tradies mentality is that “injuries come part and parcel with the job”. We know that with early intervention with physiotherapy we can reduce, relieve and eliminate the range of musculoskeletal injuries that are occurring and also help with more complex health presentations in consultation with the tradie’s own GP.
What are the most common injuries we see from Tradies?
- Back pain: is the most common injury experienced by tradies. This is the main part of the body used in the majority of tasks performed at work.
- Ankle sprains: from working on un-even ground on building sites
- Knee injuries: related to repetitive bending
- Shoulder issues: related to constant carrying of heavy tools and materials, repetitive reaching and holding actions using the arms
Why is Tradies health so important?
Tradespeople require their bodies to be healthy in order to continue to work successfully. We know that physically demanding jobs, like trade jobs, can cause and exacerbate a range of injures. It’s not surprising that tradies are overrepresented in workplace statistics compared to other workers. Workplace injuries are also shown to affect tradies income with 65 per cent stating they had lost income due to time off work due to an injury and 16 per cent saying they had lost $5,000 or more. That’s estimated to be a staggering $1.37 billion in lost income nationally.
As an industry we need to take a good look at workplace culture and the practices of many tradies and encourage them to focus more on their health and safety, not only in the short term, but looking forward over the duration of their careers.
How can Physiotherapy help you?
Coming in and seeing your physiotherapist for assessment and treatment can be incredibly beneficial in helping to prevent or manage injuries. Physiotherapists are trained in human movement and biomechanics which enables them to show you the best way to perform a task for your individual needs.
For example a Physiotherapist can assess your core muscles and make sure you are using them correctly for your tasks at work. Having good core stability can help to reduce back pain and other associated issues. Without a good core your back isn’t supported. Some simple exercises for 5-10 minutes at the start of the working day can help wake these muscles up and get them ready for action.
It’s particularly helpful to stretch the main muscles that you will be using for the day including quadriceps, hamstrings, back and shoulder muscles.
Just like any job, tradespeople experience repetitiveness with work, by seeing your physiotherapist they can help incorporate some modified work tasks into your rehab program so that you can return to work in some capacity during your recovery period.
Many tradies assume that because of the demanding manual labour they do all day that they don’t need to maintain any regular exercise. In order for Tradies to perform their jobs to their fullest, it is important that their bodies are healthy & strong with a variety of movements to be included. Overall fitness will help with sleeping better, eating well and living a balanced lifestyle.
How can you help in the workplace?
- Have your work place hosts an OHS morning where demonstrations on safe lifting techniques are shown and stretches to prevent injury.
- Use Social media and your internal networks to spread the message about National Tradie awareness month.
- Speak up and use your voice if you think something is not right.
Remember, prevention in better than cure. Be proactive, early intervention is apart of the treatment so take action today!